Visiting Helen Ballard Before We Leave….

About a month ago we had found and visited an old friend of Richs.  Helen and Kenny  Ballard were old family friends from way back.  Kenny and Leo (Richs Dad) had met in the Navy.  I wrote a Blog about finding Helen awhile back.  Kenny had passed away around 1996.  Helen is now 92.  She is a wonderful spry lady with a fabulous mind and so much energy and memories.  We had promised we would be back before we left.  Monday, I called Helen  She said, “I wondered if you were still here.” She still remembered we had come.  So I asked,  What would be a good day this week to come visit.   She said,  “Not Tue.  I go up to New Virginia and quilt at the church all day.  Any other day is fine.”  lol.  So we arranged for Wed. at 11 am.  We would go for lunch.

20160901_142708.jpg  When we got their she was ready and waiting to go.  We took her little car as our little Ranger just doesn’t fit 3 adults very good.  We went to a restaurant in Osceola called “Family Table”.  …..Down Home Cooking…. They had a buffet for 7.99.   The food was so good.  We sat their for almost 2 hours visiting.  Her granddaughters husband had been in for dinner.  When we went to leave we found out he had picked up our tab.   It was so nice of him.   Thank You so much Brett.  Sure didn’t expect that.  We drove back to Helens.  I had brought all my blog books and we looked at them.  She was so excited to see them.  She has always wanted to write things done but never knew where to start.  I think as we get older, we realize the value of all the memories and information me have.  Once we are gone, so are they.     She wanted to show us the back 40, as she calls it.  Helen and Kenny had lived around 5 miles or more away from this property that she lives on now.  Kenny wanted to buy property to build and move to someday.  He found this property.  When Richs dad came to live here, Kenny had already bought this land but had no plans to move here yet. Up the hill in the back 40 he was building a dam to form a pond.  He wanted to make an area for fishing, camping, hunting and just a place where the whole family could come and enjoy and play together.  So these were things Leo seen back in the 80’s when his trailer was here.  Kenny did complete it.  They brought in a trailer  years after Leo left, and built on to it, and thus the “Trouse” was formed… as her granddaughter Julie called it.  Well Kenny died in 1996, so he did enjoy it for awhile. So we got back in the car, Rich opened the locked gate and up the hill we went.


It is such a beautiful green area.  This is all nestled up in the hill side so nobody would ever know its their.  So full of nature, and wildlife, but yet so well maintained.  At the top of the hill, this is what we seen.


The Welcome Bear carved from wood, and the stone statue.  Now I asked Helen about the Stone piece.  I thought maybe they had made it or it meant something special.  It was given to her by her foster son who had gotten it from another family member.  They decided to put it up  here,  cause it needed a home.  It was just an interesting piece.  We followed the path across the dam.  It was so beautiful.  Now can you imagine sitting on that swing, watching the lake and wildlife, or yet watching you family have fun on the boats and swimming.   How many memories has Helen made here…..Amazing….What a Wonderful legacy Kenny and Helen have made for the family…It is something the family will cherish and hand down for generations. 


They have so many family get togethers here.   Plenty of water activities for the kids.  It was freshly mowed….Picture Perfect…..


Also had a kitchen area.  It is such a neat place to cook.  Bigger than home….lol…


It had everything one would need. Several frigs and freezer, Sink, Counters, Work table, and Cook stove and fireplace,  It also had 2 big smokers.  Imagine all the family here in RVs or tents…..all sitting at the tables eating….Wonderful family fun…I walked back toward Helen and Rich and they were just talking.


Mostly about  how Kenny had built all of this.  Her kids don’t let her mow anymore but she still takes care of maintenance.  She mentioned on the way up that she need to get a load of rock on the road.  She still takes care of all the needs.  She has quite a business head on her shoulders yet.  Finally we got back in the car, crossed the dam and back down the road.


Again so beautiful.  It was a cool crisp day, with a slight breeze…maybe in the 60’s….a great day to be out and enjoying nature.   As you see, all of this ground is kept mowed….Helen use to mow but they don’t let her anymore….lol…Helens youngest daughter, Norma and her husband, bought some of this acreage and built a log home up the hill from her.  Norma makes sure it is all mowed.   I noticed there was a zero turn mower up at the lake.  But there’s acres of grass to keep mowed.  Now the funny story about Norma.  Helen and Kenny had a number of kids.  When their youngest, Charlotte was 20 and already had a child, guess who got pregnant….lol…Helen, and here came Norma….We finally had to go, but what a good time we had.  We promised Helen we would come again next year.  We have signed up at the Park again, so if all goes as planned we will be back.  We all enjoyed our visit.  We talked about so many things.  She is about the only one left who really remembers much about Richs dad.  We asked her how Kenny and Leo met.   They met in the service.  They served on the same boat,  USS Tutuila (ARG 4) around 1944-45….not really sure.


It was an internal combustion repair ship.  It was constructed in 1943, by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation.  It served in World War II, traveling in the South Pacific.


Motto…..Eternal vigilance is the price of Freedom


It was decommissioned on December 7 1946. Later it was Commissioned again to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.   Eventually it was sold to the Republic of China.  When Kenny and Leo both got out of the Navy, Leo spent time at Kenny and Helens house.  Leo met and married Rose, Richs mom.  They continued their friendship through the years.  When Richs mom passed, he was only 15.  He spent the first summer at Kenny and Helens house.  Her kids were about the same age.  They had chores, as they were all hard workers.  Kenny had a wrecker business, salvage yard, also farmed and had livestock.  So their was always much work to be done.  That was one of the things Helen and Rich talked about, his summer at the farm.  How did he endure it ….lol….He actually enjoyed it.  Another thing she showed us was a picture on canvas.  It was given to her by a family member.  I don’t remember the story, but she was so surprised and excited to show it.


The original picture was taken in 1942 in DesMoines.  It was in an area called Capital Heights, which is now Altoona area.  Helen and Kenny had married sister and brother.  Helen and Kenny are on the left motorcycle and Helen’s brother George and Kenny’s sister are on the other.  Rich said they are both Harleys.  This was just a small snapshot and it was put on this large canvas.  It was bigger than an 11×14, and it turned out marvelous.  Helen said when she seen it, it took her back in time instantly.  She felt like a young girl at that moment of time.  As if she was their.  She had never felt like that before.  What a wonderful gift.  It was an awesome visit.  Now time to head back north to Adventureland…..Octoberfest….coming up….


Helen and Kenny Ballard     1980’s?

The Days are Winding Down….

We are now in our last week of full time at Adventureland.  After this week the park will only be open weekends till the end of Sept.  So now we can say….”This is the last Monday….This is the last Tuesday….This is the last Wednesday…….”  The general feeling through out the park is the same.  Were all glad it is going to slow down.   Were all tired.  So I will give you a little up date on what has been going on.  Last week Rich was the Outlaw operator.



It is one of the big roller coasters in the park.  It is an all wooden coaster, located in the Outlaw Gulch.



This is the gulch area.  It has a western theme.



This is Saw Mill Splash which is near the Outlaw.  It is a fun water ride that I would like to ride, but I think were running out of time.

We are only allowed in the park on weekdays free, so this is the last week.  Last Friday, which was our day off, we decided to take that opportunity to do some of the things in the park that we wanted to do.  Top on the list.  Buy one of those FABULOUS “Loaded Funnel Cakes” that walk by us all the time.

funnel cake 2


Now picture this funnel cake….put a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle…fresh peaches and strawberries around it….drizzle chocolate and strawberry syrup on top….drizzle glaze over the whole thing….lastly dollops of whip cream over the tops…..All for $9.75..…I was going to take a picture before we dived in but forgot.  We sat down by the water on a picnic table and FEASTED…..MMmmmmm….it was so good….



One of the rides I had wanted to ride was the Underground.  It is a rollercoaster ride in a cave.  It is the story about Bad Bob the bank robber who hid down in the cave with his stolen gold……



This is where you line up 2 in each stall. When the doors open your car is right on the other side.  You can see the animated miner telling you the story of Bad Bob…..It was a fun ride of darkness, skeletons, a train light coming at you….lol

We then left the park and walked back to the golf cart…..Oh the luxury of having it…Instead of walking back to the Gulch area, we rode back on the company access road.  Rich bought some of his wonderful Kettle Corn.

They cook in a huge kettle outside.  So 2 more bags and we got back in our golf cart.



On this access road, you get a view of the rollercoasters some never see.  This is the Tornado with the Storm Search in the background.  Another wooden rollercoaster.  It is all painted white with blue cars.  They also have a set of red cars they used at the beginning of the season.  Rich will be the Assist on the Tornado this week.



On the drive up the road, we also stopped on the back road to see the loading zone for the Tornado.  The building on the right with lights on is the load, unload area.  They had just came down the track and rounded the corner.   See the blue blurrrrrrrrrrrr……That’s the cars…lol…


Here they are approaching the first and highest hill.  On the side is the employee access road and then the main road of town.  It was approaching nite so some of the pictures are sort of dark.  So that was our trip on Friday.  I was asked about a week ago to do an evening in rides.   So I said sure.  I went to the Rides desk and was given the Dragon Assist.     Another big roller coaster.

2016-05-22 17.42.44

Rich has been an Assist on this one also.  All the coasters take an operator and 2 Assists.  One on each side to load and unload and secure.  Now this was an eye opener for me.  You are constantly busy.  Every 90 seconds the cars are back to reload.  You have to be alert and make sure everyone is safe.  Have everyone in line and ready to go.  Make sure harness and seatbelts are secure.  Always on guard and alert.   The plus side is.  Rides people can bring a stool to sit one during that pause time.   So at break, I went and got one from the commissary.  You have no idea how sitting for 30 seconds at a time helps.  Doesn’t seem like much does it.


Here is another picture of Dragon doing the loop de loop…..with the Tornado in the background.  Again rides I sure wont be doing.   I would loose supper…..I did enjoy that evening working in Rides and it gives me some thoughts on next year……You just Never Know……In Games we have just been rotating between the 3 areas as usual.   The one game most people love is Bingo….We have a Bingo Room in the Arcade building.  Of course Air Conditioned.   Usually have 2 people running it, one calling and one working the floor.  It is electronic digital bingo.  We have a blower that blows up the numbers and we call them and put them in the slot.  When pushed it turns the number on, on the display board.  They win points on their Arcade card.  Then they go shopping.  It is the place where adults will go when their kids are off running in the park.  They are hot and tired and need a break.  Or some people bring the little ones in, in their stroller so they can have a nap.  Many in wheelchairs or scooters who don’t do rides and just wait for family members to be done……Some can spend hours in their…That is the only AC Games for us.   But it is getting cooler now.  It is so much more fun when the weather is nice.  One of the friends I met here is Carolina (Catalina) like the Island,  and James. They are from Houston.



Originally Carolina is from Brazil South America.  She is interesting and fun to talk to.  She left Brazil, went to Australia for 2 years and then back home.  Then she came to US and met James.  Not sure how long she has been here but they have been married for 5 years I believe.  The are full time RVers.  They decided it was time to leave.  This wasn’t the job for them.  They are on their way to California to do the Pumpkin Harvest and then sell Christmas trees in Dec. I wish them nothing but…. GOOD LUCK…..I will be following their adventures…… James also has a you-tube video channel…..Wanderlust Estate….He puts out videos of their travels…..I have also found at least 3 other people that have You-tube video channels.  They have all left.  Most of their complaints were, they didn’t like all the rules.  They didn’t like the pay.  Yes, we must have rules.  It is a place of employment of many.  The park has its hours to be open and manned.  We have a dress code.  We have to appear professional.  We can’t eat or relax in the park in uniform.  The one draw back is some of the manages are very young.  As in Games, they are High School age.  So rules are important to keep them in line.  The young managers do a good job, but sometimes don’t know quite how to treat the older people.  I have been fine with them.  They all treat me well.  I do feel respected, but I know their has been issues with others.  Games is an area where mainly kids are hired.  Even 14 and 15.  Some look like little kids, but rules must be strict for that age group, but does cause problems for the older people.  But life has its issues doesn’t it…..Can’t have everything our way…..As far as pay….We have free camping from April 1 – Oct 1…..Pay is $8.50 and hour….End of season Bonus if we stay….$400 to campsite plus .75 for every hour worked.   Now people on SSI already have money coming in.  It is good for us, but those who rely strictly on this to live, it is more of a problem.  Those are the people who are having a problem with this job.  They want and need more immediate compensation.   Their are many people going to the Sugar Beets in the Dakotas starting next month.   It is hard work, 12 hour shifts, all outside.  You will probably be handed a shovel your first year….lol…They say some can make up to $8,000 in several weeks.  Some go to the different Amazon plants.  Their is an Amazon Work Force that does workamping hiring.  You also get free camping of you get your reservation in early.  But it is all warehouse work for the Christmas Season.  You are released on Dec. 24th.  NOPE  Not for us either.   We don’t want to do warehouse work.


So today is Wednesday…..Last Wed. of work…..YaHoooooooooo…..Ill leave you with an evening view of the

………………BIG WHEEL………….20160812_204226

Eastgate Friends & More Adventureland

We’ve had a break in the heat.  This past week it has cooled down to the 80’s.  So much nicer.  Makes your day at the park so much more enjoyable.  In fact last Tue. it rained all day, so they closed the park.  That does not happen very often.  One evening I worked in Alpine which is in front of the park.  I forgot my hat, so I went back in the morning to get it.  I went in through the employees entrance about a half hour before opening.  I retrieved my hat and decided to have a wonderful waffle cone made with Blue Bunny Ice creamThe Creamery faces the opening of the gates into the square.  The girl said it was something to witness the opening of the park from the inside, so I sat their and waited…..and watched….


Our park characters came out to welcome everyone at the gates…..One of them is Bernie the St. Bernard……They each go to the 2 different gate openings.


Finally it was 10 am….The gates on both sides of the carousel opened.  They were like a herd of cattle….Stampeding…..It was crazy they way they came in running as fast as they could to be the first…….Not only the kids, the adults too….


Here is the inside of the Creamery.  Very cheerful and bright….As I turned around to look through the doors, all the people came running from the 2 gates, converging on Main St..….For my own safety, I stayed inside until the “HERD” had passed…..Then I walked out with my wonderful Waffle cone filled with Chocolate Mint and Praline Pecans…..Mmmmmmm….so good…..


On my way out another Park Greeter…..Glad he has a Cane……Long fall if he tripped….


This week Rich has been the A-Train Engineer….The first picture is the station.  Now this was an extremely hot day.  That’s why the kids look so miserable…… A friend of ours, Ron, asked his wife to come and take some pictures of Rich.  I was trying to figure out how to take these pictures as I can’t bring in my phone.   Theresa came in probably one of the hottest days.   She did an awesome job.  These pictures are so nice.  Thanks again Theresa.  Ron and Theresa will also be joining us at Eastgate this winter…..Can’t Wait….


THE A-TRAIN     With Engineer Rich…..

This is my favorite picture.  The train makes a round trip about every 15 minutes…..It Choo-choos as it leaves and comes into the station, and also has the old time bells that clang as it comes in also….Really neat….Now for our day off on a Friday……….

A friend from Eastgate text me, Gail.   Gail and Dewey live near Kansas City.  They wanted to come up and have lunch….We were so excited to see them.   We met at Olive Garden on the west side of Des Moines.  It was easier for them as it was a direct shot from their house.


We had such a wonderful visit with them.  We probably sat their for over 2 hours.  The waitress was very gracious.  Gail and Dewey were winter residents of Eastgate for over 17 years.  They both had other mates.  Gail’s husband passed a number of years back, and her and Dewey got together.     Such a wonderful Happy couple.   Rich played pool with Dewey.  He is a Pool Shark….lol…He is good and he believes in …..RULES……Don’t mess with him….Gail also plays pool.  The women have their own pool time at the hall.  Last February, they decided it was time to leave.  It was sad but times change.   Gail was missing out on her family as it grew.  They both wanted to leave in a car….not a Body Bag.   Sounds morbid doesn’t it.  But many do.


This is their new adventure in life.  They are looking for that first house together.  In the mean time they are living with Gail’s daughter.  They  are such a Super Couple.  We miss them, but they are really enjoying life.  Thank You guys for taking the time to come and visit us…….  Happy Trails…….

Another thing I want to mention is our daughter Tina,  has a new Job.  She works at the Putnam County Court house in Illinois as the Deputy Probation Officer. 

2016-07-31-11.44.27.jpg.jpg  She has now moved over to the Circuit Clerks office.  She is now a Deputy Circuit Clerk. 


This is her new office.  We think this is pretty exciting news.  Putnam County is the smallest county’s in Illinois.  It consists of 6 small towns.  In fact some are just villages.  It has 1 school district consisting of 1 high school in Granville, 1 junior high outside of McNabb, and 2 other elementary schools in Hennepin and Granville.  Lots of busing for the students, but it is a great county and school district to bring up your children.  All 3 kids ended up moving back to Putnam Co.  All the grandkids are attending school their.   Remember when you were a kid?  You couldn’t wait to graduate to leave and never come back…….and then you grow up…..Common sense moves in….


I’ll close this blog with a few more pictures of the “Monster”.   I never get tired of watching it.  As I work games in the County Fair area, I look up and see the Monster all day.   This was another picture taken by Theresa……..Yep….Not for me…


Nite time….It is such a beautiful site at night……You hear the car flying over the rails…The people screaming at every turn….the lights are dazzling….Music in the distance….If you look close, in the center you will see the cars on the Sky Ride…..It goes from one end of the park to the other at tree top level.  That will help you understand the size of the “Monster”….It travels through the loops of the Monster.  It was purchased from the 1974 Worlds Fair in Spokane Washington.   Amazing isn’t it.   Many of these rides have such a wonderful history.


This is another cool picture……The Storm Search looking through the loop of the Monster.  The Storm Search was added in 2014.   So only 3 weeks left of the park being open 7 days a week.  After the 3rd week in August, it will open only weekends……

Whewwww……Were going to make it after all…..I had my doubts for awhile……


1913 Restored Carousel, Story City Ia.

This is the second part of our visit with friends Rita and Ed Frette of Story City Iowa.  After we visited Reiman Gardens in Ames, we rode with them 10 miles north to their little town Story City.  It is the home of an original 1913 restored Antique Hershell-Spillman Carousel.  The population of Story City is a little under 3,500 residents.  It is really a neat little town.  Ed drove us all over town with Rita being our tour guide.  It is a really pretty town full of beautiful full grown trees lining the streets and homes.  Plenty of shade.  Many older homes that have been restored and the yards are full of shrubs and flowers, neatly maintained.  They even have one Blvd street, and downtown their is parking in the middle of the street, as well as each side.  I would think that today with some of the larger vehicles, I would be afraid to park their as I might stick out front or back and get hit……The Story Theater/Grand Opera House  is the oldest continuously operating theater in the Midwest.  It is listed on the National Registry of Historical Places.


Finally Ed drove us to North Park a beautiful rolling park.  Up on the hill was this building which is now the home of this Beautiful restored 1913 Hershell-Spillman Carousel.  It is operated daily through much volunteer help from Memorial Day to Labor Day for a fee.


As we walked in, it took you back in time to when you were a kid.  The volunteer was their selling popcorn…uummmm….. the smell.  They sold T-shirts and souvenirs.  The building was round like the carousel and all along the walls it was full of pictures and info about the history of the town and carousel.  I walked around it and was amazed at the beautiful colors of the horses and animals.  The lights were not operational at this time, but 2 girls came in and wanted to ride.  They chose their horses and the carousel began.  The beautiful calliope tunes began as the merry go round started to twirl and the horses went up and down.   It was like a fantasy land for awhile.


This Merry Go Round is in the North Park, next to the new swimming pool they are building.  It is also situated along the beautiful Skunk River.  This park is the center of many activities in town through the summer.  They are of Nordic decent and hold a Scandinavian Festival, also story telling as well as other festivals or celebrations  with the Carousel being part of the Celebration……Now the History……


1960’s …..   Story City Historical Society

One of a vanishing species, this fun machine was built in 1913 by the Herschell-Spillman Co. of Tonawanda, New York. It was originally owned by P.T. Gifford of Grundy Center, Iowa. Gifford traveled the Iowa countryside taking the carousel to county fairs and town celebrations, including Story City’s Independence Day galas. The splendid wooden figures are hand-carved from poplar and include 20 horses, two chickens, two pigs, two dogs, two chariots, and a whirling tub. Calliope tunes are generated by a 1936 Wurlitzer Military Band organ housed in the center of the carousel. 


1950’s  Story City Historical Society

Now Ed’s Dad was a prominent businessman and he convinced the town to buy the Carousel.  They all thought he was crazy to spent $1,500.  They set the Merry Go Round up at the next event in a neighboring town, and made all the money back immediately.  Of course they quickly changed their mind and decided it was a great investment.  The carousel was purchased from Gifford in 1938 by the Story City Greater Community Congress.   Eventually, time and wear took their toll, and the battered steeds were forced into temporary retirement in 1977.


In 1980, interest in the old merry-go-round was resurrected, and restoration began at The Country Shop in rural Roland, Iowa. Layers of paint were removed, repairs made, and original colors of paint were mixed to match the old shades.



After one and one-half years, the original stencils, colors, and prints were completely restored to their present gleaming condition. A special structure was built to house the carousel, and on June 4,1982, a dedication was held.


This was the painting and the assembly of the newly refurbished Carousel.


Some of the murals and the Wurlitzer Organ sitting in the middle….


Since then this Carousel has been entertaining generations every summer.  In 2013, they had a Celebration as the Carousel was 100 years old.  It’s just amazing that it continues on a daily basis to operate and entertain anyone who wants to come and buy a bag of popcorn and take a leisurely ride back in time.  I’m sure its made so many memories through the years.  Every winter they take the horses and animals down and pack them with care.  Any repairs necessary are made at that time.   Such an Amazing town that is full of love, care and pride of something that is so beautiful and unique.


Our next stop was their duplex.  They have down sized now as we all seem to do.  This is a really cute duplex perfect for a couple.  After some visiting and watermelon, we checked out all her Hostas and Ferns they had just planted.

After that, Rita and Ed drove us back to Ames.  We stopped at Hickory Park Restaurant.  It was so busy, but amazingly we were seated fast.  It has a very rustic appearance.  Its menu is wonderful and full of barbeque items.  I highly recommend it and will go back sometime.  Of course we left with leftovers.  Way to much food.  Finally back to the truck and drove back home.   Still daylight….lol….


The End of a Wonderful day seeing some wonderful things and visiting friends……

Thank You Rita and Ed….


4th of July….Adventureland

The 4th was a beautiful weekend.  The temps had cooled down to mid 80’s.  We even brought our sweatshirts several days as the evenings were so cool.  The park was open till 10pm on Fri. Sat. and Sun.  Of course we have Fridays off together now.  We went across the street to Prairie Meadows Casino and Race Track for lunch.


They had a great buffet with everything one could ever want.  Salad and Dessert bars were to die for.  lol.   Yes all for only $21 for both of us.  You could almost spent that at McDonalds.  After we went up just one floor and checked out the casino.


Pretty typical of a casino.  All the same machines and tables.  It was decorated very colorful and all the bells were ringing of course.  The one thing I don’t remember was the smell of Cigarettes.  Must be smoke free.  But I still seen the people gambling with their Oxygen tubes hooked up.  Sad isn’t it, that’s all they have to do.  SSI check comes in and off they go to gamble.  We walked to the back and that’s where the big windows were that looked out over the Horse Race Track.


The water trucks were preparing the track for the weekend races.  Their were lots of outside tables to the right and left of the picture and inside their were all the box seats.  Seems like a lot for just a few minutes of racing.   I guess I just have never appreciated horse racing.


We left deciding to come back again for the buffet……Excellent….and maybe spending $20 next time gambling.  lol  .  Saturday and Sunday, we of course worked.  Rich is working the Himalaya this week as the Operator this time.  This gives him an enclosed area that has AC.  How nice.  I was up in the Alpine Arcade area.


These pictures are taken with my old camera, as we cannot take our phones in to work…..Bummer…..The quality of colors inside is ok, but outside in the evening, they are horrible.  This is called Water Gun Fun.  Its a squirt gun game.  I worked this game all day.


This was my friend Carolina, (pronounced Catalina, like the dressing) who was my reliever during break.  She is from Brazil, and is really a neat person to talk to with her accent.  More about her later.  The prizes are these cute little dragons.


Another picture of the Arcade area.


These girls are the Manager and Assist. Manager of Alpine for the nite.  Very nice girls, both still in High School, but very good at what they do.  Jordyn on the left and Morgan on the right.  We can tell what our positions are by the striping on our shirts under the arms.  Ours are a light blue.  Now Morgan’s is more of a medium blue, which designates an Assistant Manager.  Jordyn’s, if you could see hers, has a black insert.  That is for managers.  All areas have the same shirts so it is easy to tell what their position is.  Then by reading their name tag, you can tell what area they are in, Games, Rides, Retail or Foods.  All Company or important people……are dressed in Black shirts and Kaki colored slacks.


This is a picture of the Big Wheel…..So much prettier than this.  In this picture the lights blended together, when their were really many different colors….That’s what the ole camera does.  lol.  But it is just beautiful at night.   All the pretty colors of the rides as they go around and round.   The sounds of the different rides and the laughter and voices of the kids.  And theirs always the sound of the train whistle as they start their ride on the rails.  At 9:30 pm Prairie Meadows had a fireworks display, but we couldn’t see anything because of the trees, but we sure could hear it.  Beautiful sounds.  The next night was the 4th of July.  I worked in County Fair.


I worked the Goblets Game.  This is a game of chance.  You toss a whiffle ball in the rink.  If it falls on white, you lose.  Yellow gets you a small snake. Red is a medium and the center blue is a large.  You can also trade up.  3 small makes a medium, 3 med. makes a large.  Several guys came up and played and played.  You can also buy a bucket of balls with a small prize in it.


After lots of laughter and money spent,  these guys won and traded up to several large snakes.   Notice the one kid has the snake head on top his head.  They had won many other prizes.  Now I am pretty sure that they had to have spent way over $100 to win all these stuffed animals.  But they sure had a good time winning.


As the evening progressed I watched the Storm Chaser.  It is so cool to be near it when it goes up.  They leave their shoes and belongings on the ground as they will lose them.


This is the Storm Chaser as the sun set and darkness came.  Such a beautiful site.


This camera doesn’t show of the true colors.


Once it reaches the top, it goes around faster and the swings swing way out.


Finally it came time for the Parks fireworks.  They were set off on the other side of the park.  We were allowed to walk up a ways to watch.  We could only see the high ones, over the Monster.  They were pretty.


The beautiful lights of the rides, the music playing in the different areas, and the laughter of the people made it a magical evening with the park closing at 10 pm.  Now that our golf cart  is here, it is so easy to go home.  Rich parks it right at the Security gate.  We meet each other there when the park closes and head home.  That nite the traffic was horrible.  The cops were directing traffic, which was stopped…….and we just drove off through the parking lot and sidewalks and over to the campground……it just takes minutes…..From now on the Park will be open from 11 am to 9 pm Sunday-Thursday and on Friday and Saturdays were open till 10 pm.  So our nites are late now.  We work all the Pm shifts.  The park stays open until the last week of Aug.  That week they will close on week days and only be open on weekends till the last of Sept.  As long as we stay till then, we will be paid a bonus money per hour we worked.  So it is worth it staying, especially as we still get free camping.   Its really a nice package deal.  More people are leaving every week, but they have their own issues.  Some depts. have their own problems, some of them can’t take the heat.    If you look at the whole deal, it is really a great seasonal job.  Just imagine if you received a pay check and didn’t have to pay rent or electric.  All we do is buy food.  Meals at the Commissary are cheap also.  Today we had Turkey, Dressing, Mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and green bean casserole.  All for $2 with your drink.   What a deal.

Stay tuned for my next blog…..We went and met friends last Friday and visited Rieman Gardens in Ames Iowa…..FABULOUS…..



Adventureland…Finally Settling In

We are finally settling in and getting use to the schedule.  We are starting to tolerate the heat better, and enjoy the jobs.  We both work 6 days a week on the afternoon shift.  Mine starts at 3 and Rich starts at 2:40.  Once or twice a week, I’m also assigned a morning shift also.  That shift is 11 to 3.  It still is not even 8 hours a day by the time you sign out for lunch.  By next week we will start staying open till 9 during the week and 10 Pm.  on weekends.  I can pick up 11 to 3 shift anytime I want and Rich can go in and do morning relief for breaks.  Were trying to work around 35 hours a week.  Its not difficult to do that.  A number of Workampers have quit and more to come.  A lot of people just can’t handle it, and some are unhappy with the amount of hours they get.  Some want less, some want more.  Partly communication problem I think.  I know Rich and I have no problem with our schedule.  Before I go any further I want to make an


Congratulation to Ashley and Mat on the Arrival of Vivian Grace this morning.


Vivian weighed in at 7 lb. 8 oz.   20″ long. 

Ashley is our niece.  Her mom Connie is Rich’s youngest sister.  If you read the blog just before we left home last month, Ashley had a Huge Wonderful Shower.  They have both been waiting patiently I think…….Connie called me a week ago and thought they were going in but…..NOPE…..Doesn’t happen that way.   Ashley and Mat went in during the nite.  Connie arrived around 3.   Turned out little Vivian was breach and so they decided to do a C-Section.   Several hours later little Vivian was born.   Mat was blown away and so emotional with his new daughter.  I can only imagine Connie.   She is on Cloud Nine. This is the first grandchild for Connie and Brian, as well as Mats parents.  We had a 9 way conversation on the cell this morning.  I heard it pop….pop…pop…and wondered  what was going on.  I got up and found out that Ashley had just went in for her C-Section.  So Congratulations to All.  I’m sure their is such excitement going on at home right now.  Their lives have all been changed for ever, now theirs a little baby in their lives.  Little Vivian is now ready to be spoiled by all Grandmas and Grandpas……

This week Rich has been operating the Lady Luck.


Every week they are assigned a job for all week.  This ride does not require an assistant.  He also has a chair to sit on in the shade.

Last week he operated the Tilt A Whirl which also didn’t require an assistant.  The week before he was an assistant on The Dragon.  It is one of the big roller coasters in the park.


Before that he was the Chuck Wagon operator.  It is a ride more for kids, but many adults rode it too.


He said some even almost to big to fit it….lol…In games, we have 3 areas that we work.  Alpine, which is more Arcade games, County Fair, which is your old time fair or carnival games, and The Dragon.  That area of course is by the Dragon Rollercoaster.  We change games every day.  We get a schedule by area for the week, but don’t know what game we get until we get to work.  I am starting to have more fun now.  My favorite games are games the kids always get PrizeIMG_0564This of course is the Duck Pond game.  Their are 45 ducks.  One has a Black dot on the bottom for the big prize, one has a red and one has a blue for the medium.  All other 42 has no dot but still win a small prize.


These are the prizes.  The medium and small are square plush ducks in yellow, pink and blue.  The little kids love them.


One boy came in with only $3 to play one game, and guess what he picked….The black dot duck.   We were all just ecstatic…..Another favorite game is Bash a Bully….


You throw 4 leather bean bags at an open mouth and try to knock down 5 teeth.


This game is easy for some and hard for others.  Its a cute game.


I worked this game yesterday.  It is a game of luck.   Throw a whiffle ball and hopes it lands in a colored Goblet.  The name of the Game?  Goblets of course.  1 ball is $2, 5 balls is $5, and a bucket of 12 balls with a small prize in it already is $10.  This is just a few of the games I have worked so far.  Each area is run by a manager and assistant managers.   I am finding them all to be so nice.  They are definitely company orientated also.  They go by the rules that are required.  So if you don’t tuck in your shirt your told, if you late you might be questioned.  If your out of your area your told to get back.  But all in all, if you do as the rules require, you will be fine.  They are all easy to get along with.  They also have kids working that are 14 and 15.  Some of them do seem way to immature. Well see how long they last.  I’ve heard that many of the kids leave after they have several checks.  When your young, a few checks and you think your “Rich”….lol….Oh how I wish……So I think as time goes on we will probably be asked to do more hours.  I’ve heard by the end of the season, they lose a lot of workers.  But the park closes after the third week in August, during the week.  The Iowa State Fair begins and it not far away.  After that school begins and were only open weekends till the end of Sept.  So actually, we only have a little less than 2 months.  Its really not that long.


This is a nice cool area covered with screen.  Plenty of benches to sit and rest….


Bridge to Raging River Ride

So an Update on the Accident: …….NOTHING……Nothing has been said or acknowledged.  It is as if it never happened.  We have heard via the grape vine, that the operator is being blamed.  I also believe that the way the paper stated, it is true…..BUT……DID HE HAVE PROPER TRAINING…….I don’t think he should carry the whole blame……..Shouldn’t a switch be implemented for the assist person to push so the operator can then start the ride?  I still think they should have held a meeting the next day to reinforce safety.  What about the family.  Many of the workers here wanted to send cards or condolences.  We weren’t given an address or any means to communicate with the family.  If I was Steve’s wife, it would have meant so much to me to read and hear from all the fellow workers.  They were just here today……gone tomorrow….This was a Very Traumatic event in many peoples lives.  The only thing we ever knew was what was printed in the paper………..Will We Ever Know Anymore Details?…..Probably Not…….

All I know is this is NOT the way to handle a situation of this serious nature.  At Advantage Logistics, Sandy would have called a meeting immediately.  Their would have been information given as how to help the family.  Safety issues would have been discussed.  A through investigation would have happened and we would have been advised.  Ideas would be discussed as to how to not let this happen again.  The family would have been a major concern to her and all of the employees.  Fortunately, we never had a serious accident at our plant, but several had happened at plants out of state.  That was the reaction that we received from our company…..Complete Openness…..A desire to help…

Silence creates rumors…..Rumors promotes finger pointing deserved or not…..Bottom line……Bitterness and Lawsuits…..

The “Monster” is Now Running

The new ride,  “The Monster” is now open for business.  It was opened a little over a week ago.  The night before, they let the park employees ride it.   Nope, NOT US…..but we watched.   The next morning the local newscaster rode it solo, live on his newscast, with a Go Pro on his head.  That was all I needed to see    NO THANK YOU.  We’ll stay on the ground.  The Iowa Governor was their that afternoon also.  They have installed some fabulous lights on it.  They are continually  changing colors.  As the coaster fly’s by the tracks color changes again as if the coaster is a shooting star.  Of coarse then you hear all the screaming coming from the car.  lol.


Saturday, June 11, was our oldest grandson Camerons “18th” Birthday.  He drove out with his friend and spent 2 days.  He went to Adventureland of course, did some fishing at the pond here and grandpa took them out to eat at Bonanza Steak house in DesMoines while I was working.  We had different days off, so it was impossible to do things together.  I think they had a good time.  I know he enjoyed the road trip of 4 hours, especially since he just traded his pick up for an Eclipse.  That would be one of those models you fall in….then crawl back out…..


Happy “18th” Birthday  Cameron

I didn’t get a good picture of him here but this is one of my favorites from last Christmas when they were down at South Padre Island for the holiday.  We rented this jeep to ride on the beach…….So now he is “OFFICIALLY an ADULT”…….Responsible for all his actions, Good or Bad…….But at 18 you generally know it all right?….LIFE IS GOOD….

I’ll go back a bit with some pictures we took at our Workampers Chicken Dinner and Orientation. 


This is the HR Director Gary Paredekooper.  He took us all for a walking tour through part of the park before we opened full time.


We stopped at  RATHSKELLAR Beer Gardens.  They offer 21 varieties of imported German Import Beers.  They also offer sodas and hamburgers, fries and other snacks.  We were allowed to all have a beer.


We walked back to almost the Waterpark and seen the back part of the Tornado Rollercoaster.


This roller coaster is The Outlaw.  After all that we went to back to the front to the Palace Theater.  We were given a Nice Chicken dinner and Welcome speeches from the Owners and managers.  They have hired over 300 Workampers this year.  We have been given free camping and an hourly wage, plus bonus is we stay till the end of the year.  Gary went to Arizona, Texas and Florida, last winter to recruit everyone.  So we have people in the campground from all over.  It is quite a group, and all so friendly.  Some have been coming back for many years.


Here  is Rich in his uniform on his way to work.  We have been given 2 shirts, we supply kaki shorts or pants, black shoes with black belt, or white shoes with brown belt.  We are also given a hat or visor, and of course a full length rain coat.  We are out their   RAIN OR SHINE….and we have already used the rain coats.  We can only go into the park on week days on a day off to buy food or retail.  Otherwise we cannot shop or ride rides, in our uniform on working days.  We have a commissary for breaks with really cheap food.  But how have we been coping?     Well…..OUR FEET ARE SORE….standing for hours is really hard.  crowds had been really light so not a lot of business at the games.  We have to stay at our game at all times.  I have worked the games now in all 3 areas,   Alpine, Dragon and County Fair.  I’ve worked Bingo, Can it, Bash a Bully, Guess your Age and Weight, Roller Bowler, Derby Downs, Sea Race, Goblet, and Smashing Plates…..that’s just a few….lol….We change every day.  Now Rich works a ride for a week at a time.  He has worked as an assist on Himalaya, and then Operator on Chuck Wagon and now operator on Tilt a Wirl.  Starting tomorrow, he will be an assist on the rollercoaster The Dragon.  The weather has been really hot the last several days.  Mid 90’s with heat index over 100……..Last week I not only had achy feet, I started to ache all over and get a scratchy throat.  Well it developed into what I will call the Iowa Crud.  lol.  It seems every state has the crud that seems to take you down for a while.  My head was so full, I wondered how I would make it,  I really was beginning to think it wouldn’t, but it has now broken and every day is better.  I will survive.  But guess what,…..I gave it to Rich….He is in the recliner resting up for our next shift this afternoon of 90 degree weather.   I remember when we were first at the Gas pipeline last September and it was so hot, I thought we wouldn’t survive.  Once you get accustomed and find out how,  it really isn’t that bad.   Then you begin to enjoy your surroundings……lol…Words of Wisdom…..Yesterday, I brought my water jug, filled it full of their ice they supply.  Cameron showed me these Cool Wraps at Walmart.  I bought a 2 pack, and I believe they will be the answer.  Yesterday it felt so good to wrap my neck or just wipe my forehead with it.

cooling towl

“THANK YOU CAMERON”   This is my Salvation…….

If it dries, just poor more water on it and it soaks in.   Great Product.  They were a 2 pack for $8.   Not bad at all.  Yesterday, I worked from 3-10.  I only had to rewet it twice.  It was nice to have something cool and wet to wipe my face and neck.  I worked the Duck Pond again, and we had more kids.  That made it more enjoyable.  It was a good evening, so I think I’m over the hump.  Feeling better and maybe now I can start enjoys this gig a little more……Rich is just going to have to suffer the next few days also.  My next day off is Thur, and his is Fri.   After that we should have Fridays off together.  Everything just seems to take time to work out…….


Just wanted to report on this poor momma duck.   I had put her picture in the last blog.  She is still sitting in the middle of her flower pot on Main Street.  She has weathered several driving rain storms and all this high 90s heat with no shade or protection.  I sure hope her eggs hatch soon.  I have walked by her and she is panting.  I’m sure she stays their from the time the park opens till it closes to protect her eggs.   Kids are always walking by and talking to her and showing their friends.  Apparently they don’t bother her.

Tomorrow, I will be able to see her again and see her progress….